Loki (Disney+): An Old School Redemptive Arc

By Jacob Sahms

I am not a Tom Hiddleston fan. Given many options, I would not have watched the six episodes of Disney+’s Marvel series about Thor’s “half-brother,” Loki. I am just not that interested in the Trickster character, the ‘devil’ in the shadows, teasing and taunting and luring the heroes of the stories into troubling decisions and problematic moments. But the pandemic has been the great equalizer — I tuned into the NBA’s playoffs for the first time in years and I even almost watched golf last week! As Falcon & Winter Soldier ended its stellar first season, Loki seemed the necessary watch afterward.

For the uninitiated, Loki follows the title character’s downward spiral from the early Avengers’ films into a rabbit hole sideshow that ends up pre-Endgame as well. Loki’s alternate (think a clone or a person from a different universe) finds himself tried and judged for crimes against humanity by the Times Variance Authority. It’s all sci-fi mind-bending from there, about time, reality, and the natural order of things, where Loki makes friends with his TVA minder Mobius (Owen Wilson), avoids Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaki), clashes with TVA judge Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), and discovering a female variant of himself, Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino). Together, they will uncover the conspiracy behind the TVA and potentially disrupt the very fabric of space and time itself!

Seem melodramatic? That’s definitely what Rick and Morty alum and the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel director Michael Waldron was going for. It’s a quirky, weird, delightfully insane take on the Marvel universe. It’ll work for some people and not for others… and while I’m still not a Hiddleston/Loki fan, I realize that there’s a beauty here for one great reason:

Loki sets out to show that while not everyone is a hero, everyone is faced with moments where they can choose to be heroic. Even the villainous, deceitful, often crazy younger half-brother of Thor.

Think about David versus Goliath, even though he’s also a philanderer.

Think about Peter who denies Jesus but also walks on water momentarily.

Think about Moses who murders one man and is used to liberate thousands.

Loki makes the right choices, the sacrificial ones, even when everyone else expects him to fail. His soul rises to the occasion, and he does the right thing, and everyone else is better for it. Loki might be the most sci-fi-driven Old Testament reference of a redemptive arc ever. And if it’s not on your radar, maybe it should be.

Loki does have some harsh language, and moments of violence, not met for younger audiences. 

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